Hey, I've been right where you are, and I've achieved success.
I’m a success coach for early career professionals who feel the pressure to progress in their careers but don’t know what that means, what it takes, and how to get there. I help them get clear on what they want and create a plan to make it happen so they can confidently navigate the corporate environment achieving their definition of a successful career.
My story begins in grad school. I started my degree in Materials Science the Monday after completing my B.S. in Chemical Engineering. I needed to complete an extended internship in order to graduate and I knew this going in.
With 4 rejections under my belt, I struggled through my 5th interview with a panel of 3 intimidating engineers at a Fortune 500 company. Gulp. I lived through it and performed my absolute best, but left feeling like it wasn’t good enough.
I thought for sure I'd blown it.
Despite the daunting tasks ahead of me, things were going well! I knew what I needed to do and I was doing it. I received great feedback from my mentor and manager on a regular basis. My graduate advisors were satisfied with everything as well — I was getting the credit I needed to get my degree.
A few months went by and graduation was in my line of sight. I started asking about a permanent position and how I could get one. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a whole lot of answers… or encouragement.
I showed up for work and a training plan and mentor were waiting for me. I was tasked with learning, documenting, and identifying the potential usage of a piece of equipment no one knew how to use that was purchased for a program that had been canceled. Whoa! I thought this was a pretty crazy introduction into high tech.
I was shocked a few days later to receive a voicemail with an internship offer. In fact, I was going to be the highest paid intern in the program. I promptly called back and accepted — I was ecstatic!
It was 2007 and no one was hiring... but I was persistent.
I asked the question at just about every 1:1 with my manager I had. I wasn’t being pushy, but until she said an absolute “no” I was still going to bring it up. I needed a job after this internship ended - not working was simply not an option. I liked the people, the environment, and the work — of course I wanted to stay at this company.
I was given the date, times, and topics for my interviews - Chemistry, Process Engineering, Statistical Process Control, and Soft Skills. Working on a piece of equipment no one knew how to use did not prepare me for process engineering and statistical process control. I needed help.
A couple months of my persistence wore her down. I finally got her to commit to work with another manager to arrange an interview, although there were no guarantees I would at least have a chance to show myself.
I requested a meeting with a statistician at the company. I leveled with him on my situation and the interview and asked him what I’d need to know if I were a process engineer. He spent the next hour with me sketching out concepts and graphs on engineering paper and answered every single question I had.
4 hours of interviews later and I was officially hired.
That was the hardest and most grueling process I had ever gone through. Without the help of my friendly statistician it would’ve been successful. I even found out later that as the interviewees gathered to discuss my performance the engineer that interviewed me on that topic said “man, she sure does know a lot about process control!”
After this whirlwind was over I went back to my role completing my internship and degree. The following Monday I moved to a new division, role, responsibilities, and manager as a full-fledged engineer.
My mentor in this new role was fantastic! She was an expert and very open to questions — I
felt comfortable with her. My manager, however, was not helpful. At my first performance review we discussed ranks, career paths, and the general expectation that I needed to promote to the next level, but anything beyond that was up to me. He provided no guidance, help, or leadership on the how-to.
College didn't prepare me for this.
Within 2 years, I was on manager number 4. I asked about career advancement and opportunities with each of them. Every single one of them had different “rules.” These ranged from promoting to the next level would take 1-3 years, 2-5 years, or if it takes more than 3 years and we should fire you.
I was frustrated as hell.
Then, they announced massive layoffs were coming. We had reached the peak in the recession and downsizing was imminent. I had to update my resume and “apply” to keep a job at this company. I felt nauseated every single day with the unknown.
I started doing everything I could think of that I still had control over. I wrote thorough documentation of my work and accomplishments, making sure my value and contributions were clear. I communicated this more widely and with stronger language. I set up meetings with managers in other areas to express interest.
That year I said goodbye to hundreds of laid off colleagues.
Fortunately, I was kept on and moved to a different area. Now at 3 years in I was in my 3rd role and on my 4th manager. I had some unique experience in my own right. I had also built my flexibility and adaptability muscles out of necessity. I was now well-versed in self-advocacy and articulating my value was rote.
Over the next 2 years I…
Advanced to the next level in rank
Justified a rotation to yet another role that provided more growth for me
Received my first raise
Within another 3 years I...
Advocated for rotation to another role and a raise
Interviewed for, and beat out more experienced candidates, a strategic role and promotion and a big raise
Was being asked for career advice from a lot of people